Tag Archives: cold

Roasted Tomato, Saffron and Mozzarella Risotto Layer Cake

20 Aug

I roasted off another batch of my favourite slow roasted tomatoes yesterday and wanted to use them in something lovely for dinner. I found a recipe for a grilled vegetable saffron risotto cake that fit the bill perfectly.

In the original version they layer it with grilled aubergine, courgette and roasted peppers which I will definitely try next time. But I had all these sweet roasted tomatoes hanging about and I was hungry, so I just used them. I also added some of my sundried tomatoes for extra tomato intensity.

Roasted Tomato, Saffron & Mozzarella Risotto Layer Cake

Serves 4-6, vegetarian, gluten-free. Adapted from  Jane Baxter, The Guardian

  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 big pinch saffron
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp crushed fennel seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 big pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • 20 slow roasted tomato halves, see recipe here
  • 2 or 3 tbsp finely chopped sundried tomatoes plus 8 strips for layers
  • 300 gr risotto rice (I used brown rice, it takes longer to cook and more stock)
  • salt & black pepper
  • a splash of white wine/vermouth
  • 1 – 1 1/2 litres veg stock
  • a bunch fresh basil leaves, 1/2 finely shredded 1/2 left whole
  • 125 gr ball mozzarella, sliced in 5mm thick ovals
  • a handful of finely grated Manchego/Parmesan
  • rocket, olive oil & balsamic vinegar to serve

Put the veg stock in small pan, over a medium-low heat to heat up while you are cooking.

Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat and cook the onion and saffron with a pinch of salt for 5 -6 minutes until softened. Then add the fennel seeds, garlic and chilli flakes and cook for a further 2 minutes. Now add 12 of the roasted tomato halves and any roasting juices, the chopped sun-dried tomatoes and the rice. Cook at a fast simmer, stirring for about 2 minutes, season generously with salt & pepper & splash in the wine.

Add the hot stock to the rice a ladleful at a time over a medium heat, adding the next ladleful when the previous one has all been absorbed. Continue like this until most of the stock is used up (1 litre for risotto rice – 1 1/2 for brown rice), taste the rice and see if it is cooked. It should still have a bit of bite to it. Season again, add in the finely shredded basil, stir and taste. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. I didn’t leave it to cool very long, I was hungry.

Preheat the oven to 180 C. Line the base of a terrine or loaf tin with baking parchment and oil/butter the sides. Take 1/3 of the cooled rice and press it into the bottom of the mould evenly. Top with 4 of the remaining roasted tomatoes in a line along the centre of the rice then top those with a half of the mozzarella slices, the a line of sun-dried tomato strips, then with a line of basil leaves. Sprinkle over half the grated cheese.

Top with another 1/3 rice, press down evenly and add toppings as before. Then finish off with the final layer of rice and press down evenly. Cook in the preheated oven for 30 minutes until golden brown on top.

To serve, run a knife around the edge of the cake and turn it out onto a serving plate. Use a serrated bread knife to cut into generous slices and serve with a rocket salad dressed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and black pepper.

This is equally good served hot or cold and would be perfect for a summer picnic or buffet table.

 I’m having this cold for my lunch now, have a great weekend!

 Happy Birthday Dad,

Love You xxx

Unbelieveably Easy Fresh Fig and Almond Ice Cream

16 Aug

This ice cream is amazingly simple to make and it’s vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free and guilt-free. It also tastes lovely. Don’t believe me? Just try it and see. You’re going to love me for this, I promise.

As you probably know I have a huge bag of fresh figs in my freezer (thanks Leigh) and am desperately trying to use them up. The thing is they don’t seem to be going down.  I’ve made Fig Chutney, Fig Jam, Fig Muffins, Fig Granola Crumble, and just recently Fig & Feta Sambouseks.

While I was out walking this morning with the dog, taking pictures of  figs, I felt something crunching under my feet. I  looked down and saw that I was walking over almonds (not Driving Over Lemons).  In the tree above my head I saw that the almond kernels are now hatching out of their furry jackets and falling to the ground.

I picked up as many as I could carry and took them home. The thing is I don’t have any nutcrackers but they look great in the pictures. I must buy some nutcrackers though.

Anyway, back to the ice cream. I’ve seen a few recipes recently for an ice cream made just using frozen bananas. You just freeze them and then whiz them in a blender, that’s it. So I threw a couple of bananas that were going a bit brown into the freezer.

The next day when I went to retrieve them I realised that it was going to be impossible to peel the things because the skins were frozen solid. I’m such an idiot, you are supposed to peel and chop them up first!

Thankfully I found Sawsan’s recipe which explained this in detail so I tried again (with different bananas). I added some coconut milk to get it going, grated coconut and lime zest too. You can eat it like a slushy straight away or freeze it for a few hours to firm it up.

While I was looking in the freezer I saw the huge bag of figs and wondered if it would work with them just as well. So I tried them, and it did. I used low-fat coconut milk and ground almonds for creaminess and vanilla extract for a little sweetness.  I’m sure Greek yoghurt would be lovely in this too if you didn’t want to use coconut milk.

So there it is. A simple ice cream made without an ice cream maker or all that tedious stirring every hour. Just use frozen fruit and blend it with coconut milk or yoghurt and add any other flavourings you like.

Fresh Fig and Almond Ice Cream Recipe

Makes about 1/2 litre, easily doubled, vegan, gluten-free

  • 8 fresh figs (frozen for 24 hours before using)
  • about 200 ml (1/2 tin), low-fat coconut milk, shake the tin before opening
  • 55 gr (1/2 cup) ground almonds
  • a few drops of almond extract (optional)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • flaked almonds, toasted in a dry pan for garnish

Take the figs out of the freezer, quarter them and put them in a blender or food processor with the rest of the ingredients. Pulse to get it going then blend until well mixed and smooth. Taste, if you want it sweeter add some honey.

Eat straight away if you can’t wait or pour into an ice cream tub and freeze for a couple of hours or more until firm. That’s it. How easy is that?

Serve sprinkled with the toasted flaked almonds.

The possibilities are endless. I want to try mango and banana next time with coconut milk. If you want to add some texture with nuts or broken up cookies, (I’m thinking crushed Amaretti biscuits) stir them through after you’ve blended then freeze as usual.

Just remember to peel and chop the bananas, if using, before you freeze them…..

Things That made Me Smile Today……………..

We picked up our new cushions at the weekend for the banquette seat on our terrace.

I’m really pleased with them. The guy that made them has done a fantastic job.

I’m thinking “Ralph Lauren in Provence”….

I just wish it would cool down a bit so I could sit outside and enjoy them!

White Grape Gazpacho with Ajo Blanco Cream

13 Aug

This is a fusion of two of the most well-known Spanish summer soups: Gazpacho and Ajo Blanco. Gazpacho is traditionally a tomato based chilled vegetable soup and Ajo Blanco is a white version, also served chilled, made with almonds, garlic and olive oil.

They have their roots in southern Andalucia from around Sevilla, Cordoba, Granada and Malaga and they are both believed to have originated with the Moors.

I was looking for white grape recipes because I walk by these bunches of Moscatel grapes every morning watching them grow sweeter and darker with the heat of the sun.

I found a recipe for White Grape Gazpacho which I really liked the idea of. I have to admit that I am not all that fond of cold soup, in fact I never eat it. I realise that this is sacrilege coming from the birthplace of Gazpacho but I can’t help it, I’ve tried and I’m just not feeling it. I don’t like olives either, I know, por dios!

For some strange reason the fact that it was a cold soup with fruit, rather than vegetables, made it more appealing to me. It may have been to do with the soaring temperatures and the inability to think about eating anything even the slightest bit warm. Whatever the explanation, I was happy to try it.

I’m so glad I did, this is a really refreshing soup. It has to be really cold though, I mean ice-cold, and you have to eat it quickly before it starts to get warm.

The Ajo Blanco cream came to me because I thought it needed a swirl of something on top. You could use creme fraiche but it’s a bit French and I saw Rick Stein making (well he was actually watching someone else making) Ajo Blanco on his new series, A Taste of Spain. The traditional garnish is some Moscatel grapes. So I decided to turn the tables and use Ajo Blanco as my garnish on the White Grape Gazpacho. The two work so well together.

This would make a really elegant summer starter/appetizer for entertaining. It looks impressive but is surprisingly easy. Just chill and serve.

White Grape Gazpacho with Ajo Blanco Cream

Serves 2-3, vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from Honey Flow Farm & Spain Recipes

For the White Grape Gazpacho:

  • 350 gr white grapes (moscatel would be lovely, deseeded) I used seedless. Plus extra for garnish, halved
  • 10/12 mint leaves, finely chopped
  • a small handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 English cucumber (1 Spanish pepino) peeled and diced
  • 2 or 3 spring onions (1 small cebolleta), finely chopped
  • 220 ml (1 cup) veg stock
  • 220 ml (1 cup) iced water (I use 3 ice cubes crushed, and water)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Mix all the ingredients apart from the stock and water together in a bowl and season with the salt and pepper. Remove three-quarters of the mix to a food processor, pulse a few times then add the stock and iced water and process until it liquid but still with some texture. Then add in the rest of the ingredients from the bowl and pulse once more. Taste for seasoning and chill for at least 2 hours. Put your serving bowls in the freezer to chill too.

For the Ajo Blanco Cream:

  • 75 gr (1/2 cup) ground almonds
  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • 3 tbsp extra virgen olive oil
  • 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 50-75 ml (1/2-3/4 cup) cold water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • flaked almonds, toasted in a dry pan for garnish

Put the ground almonds, garlic and sherry vinegar in a food processor and blend. Then add the olive oil and blend to a smooth paste. Add the water, a bit at a time until you reach the consistency of thick pouring cream. Season with the salt, taste, cover and chill for 2 hours.

To serve, ladle the cold Grape Gazpacho soup into the frozen bowls and top with a generous swirl of the Ajo Blanco cream. Top with a few halved grapes and some of the toasted flaked almonds.

Buen Provecho!

Things That Made Me Smile Today……

A lone goat wandering down the middle of the road. We stopped the car to say hello, she was very friendly!

Rufus looking very serious, “Stop taking pictures of me!”

Have a great weekend,

Sesame Soba Noodle Salad with Spring Onions, Chives and Awards

14 May

I’ll start by saying a big thank you to Kimberli at Kimberli’s Kitchen for passing a Versatile Blogger award onto me. Go and check out her blog, she makes lovely cookies!

The rules of these things are that :

  1. You must thank the person who awarded you by linking back to their post (check)
  2. You have to list 7 interesting things about yourself  (Seven! Oh dear) 
  3. You have to pass the award on to 15 other new or newly discovered blogs. (That’s the easy part)

The following blogs are new (or new-ish) to me and I find them all inspiring in different ways…

Journeys of Your Life. Andrew is living the dream and doing his round the world trip in style. Stops in New York, Peru, Thailand, Bali, India and more. Jealous much?!

A Meandering Mango Bhavani takes some of the most beautiful pictures of food I have seen. I want to be that good!

Pearl & Pine Sarah has an understated and beautiful blog. Her food is simple and elegant. I love her photos of Seattle it makes me want to live there even though it seems to rain all the time!

The Culinary Taste Rita lives in Tuscany with her husband and little boy Lapo. She makes simple, seasonal Italian inspired food and she has just written a children’s book for her son’s first birthday.

Beloved Green Clarkie makes delicious food that you want to eat. Her step by step photos are always gorgeous and she has a soft spot for beautifully designed things.

Two Tarts Sarah are Dulcie are two friends who like to cook and make things from scratch. They show you how to make things like ricotta and mascarpone and then give you a list of gorgeous recipes to make with them. They also post full menus for entertaining which is really brilliant.

Chocolate Chilli Mango As the name suggests, Viviane is obsessed with chocolate and uses her Italian genes to come up with some beautifully delicious sweet things that may have an exotic Aussie twist!

KO Rasoi Sanjana makes the most mouth-watering Indian vegetarian food out there and photographs it beautifully.

Alexa Marsden Alexa is an artist and photographer who also has a  beautiful vegetarian/vegan food blog. Some people can just be too talented you know!

Sweet Caroline’s Cooking Caroline is, as the name suggests, very sweet. Her happy, smiling face greets you when you arrive at her blog and you immediately feel at home. Home cooked beautiful food at it’s best. Margarita cupcakes, need I say more!

Mission Delectable Kirsten lives in San Francisco and I love every delicious recipe she posts. Her photos are light and beautiful, and her dog is just gorgeous!

Moderate Oven Dani makes healthy, seasonal dishes for her family using local produce and has a beautiful vegetable garden to pick from too. So jealous!

A little Bit Crunchy A Little Bit Rock n’ Roll Mama J muses on food, family, music and life. Her vegetarian food is always what I want to eat right now. She also takes beautiful pictures of flowers!

Rufus’ Food & Spirit Guide Rufus is not a spirit guide in the yogic sense (as I thought when I first read it!). What he does do is make interesting, eclectic recipes and amazing cocktails. I love that combination!

The Taste Space  Janet/Saveur posts delicious vegetarian recipes with a definite world flavour. Think Middle Eastern, Asian and Mexican with a whole lot more thrown in. My idea of heaven! 

Okay so that’s my 15 new- ish finds. I really hope you check them out and have a good look round. You won’t regret it and if you feel like leaving a comment don’t forget to say who sent you…..

So back to the recipe while I struggle to find SEVEN interesting things to share about myself….

Soba noodles are made from buckwheat so they are gluten-free. They are also delicious. They have a nutty whole-wheat flavour which goes perfectly with the sesame oil. You can serve them hot in a stir fry or noodle broth but I actually prefer them cold which is how the Japanese serve them. Something about the cold bringing out the flavours and textures I think. They are also extremely more- ish (not Moorish). You can definitely eat a large bowl by yourself, no problem. Which is fine because they’re good for you.

This is our little chive plant which is growing on our roof terrace. It’s beautiful purple flowers make it stand out from the rest of the herbs so I wanted to do a recipe using chives as a main ingredient. This is a Nigella recipe that I make quite often, I just added the chives, it’s delicious…

Sesame Soba Noodle Salad with Spring Onions & Chives

serves 1, vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from a Nigella Lawson recipe

  • about 100 gr soba noodles (about 200 gr cooked)
  • 3 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp Shaoxing rice wine
  • 1 tsp rice wine vinegar (or sherry vinegar)
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped
  • a bunch of chives, finely chopped
  • 25 gr (or more) sesame seeds, toasted

Toast the sesame seeds in a dry pan over a medium heat until golden brown, and tip them into a bowl. Bring a large pan of water to the boil and add some salt. Put in the soba noodles and cook them for about 6 -8 minutes (or according to packet instructions) until they are just tender. Have a bowl of iced water waiting to plunge them into after draining.

In the bowl you are going to serve the noodles in, whisk together the vinegar, rice wine, soy sauce, honey and sesame oil. Then add most of the spring onions and chives into the bowl with the cooled, drained noodles and mix together thoroughly before adding most of the sesame seeds and tossing again.

Leave the sesame noodles for about half an hour to let the flavours develop if physically possible.  If not, serve straight away garnished with the remaining, spring onions, chives and sesame seeds.

Okay so here we go: Seven “Interesting” Facts you may not know about me……

  1. I’ve been a vegetarian for 25 years (that’s scary)
  2. When I was 13 I saw an episode of the TV show MASH where they had a pet lamb. By the end of the show they had to eat it. I never ate meat again.
  3. I developed breast cancer 2 years ago aged 36. I’ve just finished my treatment which was 6 months of chemo & lapatinib (a clinical trial) followed by an operation to remove the tumor. Then 6 weeks of radiotherapy and then a year of Herceptin.
  4. I now feel better than ever and attribute my swift recovery to a combination of conventional treatment, healthy diet (during treatment I stopped eating dairy (cow) products and all sugars, including fruit), reiki sessions and some alternative medicines such as Salvestrol, LDN and Melatonin. Salvestrol and LDN I will continue to take for the rest of my life.
  5. We used to own a restaurant where I designed the menus but I never went in the kitchen, except to make tea.
  6. None of my friends and family can believe that I now cook because from the age of 18 I lived on a diet that consisted of Marks & Spencer’s mashed potato and hummus, and I NEVER cooked!
  7. My ambition is to publish a vegetarian/vegan cookbook that will be a  vegetarian culinary journey around the world.

Enjoy!!

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